Start-up Diaries: FamilyPunk
Parenting comes with many challenges. Getting advice shouldn’t be one of them. Dr. Jutta Merschen, mother of three, founded FamilyPunk to replace the myriad books, blogs and messy Facebook groups for expecting or worn-out parents. With the aim to empower, not to preach
How the idea for FamilyPunk started
I have three very adorable and very wild boys. While my kids bring me a lot of joy, there are times when their behavior is annoying, and situations can get stressful. When I first started looking for advice on how to parent better in 2018, I mostly found books, blogs, Facebook groups. I read some of the books, but it was hard to apply the insight of hundreds of pages into practice. With blogs and Facebook groups, I was never quite sure whether to trust the advice. Nothing solved my problem quickly enough. I kept looking for a practical solution, but when I realized that it did not exist, I figured I would have to create it myself. Given my background in technology management, I went ahead and founded FamilyPunk, the digital coach for parents. We make parenting easier by providing knowledge, strategy and a positive mindset to parents.
What is special about FamilyPunk
A few things are different about FamilyPunk:
- We are audio-first.
- Our content is created by experts and parents.
- Our parenting content is bite-sized: on average, each session is five minutes long, so that even the busiest parents can tune in. Our approach is based on empowerment. We don’t tell parents what to do. We bring them the latest insights from research and practice, so they can make educated choices on how to raise their kids.
When we started out, we followed the mantra “Content first, app second”. Meaning, we wanted to make sure that our service resonated with parents before building an app. The first few months were spent creating and testing content with hundreds of parents. We also selected and configured a streaming platform. Based on all the feedback we had collected, we refined the material and launched our web-based platform first, in March 2021. That was a major milestone because it finally allowed us to offer our content as part of a paid membership.
What I underestimated
I come from the corporate world, having spent 10+ years at McKinsey. We had an expert for everything: You found our niche, built your knowledge there and then structured your career around it. And when you needed something outside your area of expertise, you went ahead and consulted an expert, or asked an internal team to get the job done much better than you could. Being a founder – at least if you begin with a small team – is very different. You do a lot of things that you are technically not qualified for. Your only chance is to learn a lot and very quickly. I think I underestimated the breadth of topics that you need to master as a founder, and sometimes the depth.
We have so many of them planned. We aim to integrate our current offer with coaching to enhance its value and enable parents to find individual solutions. We will expand our material to cover the parenting of kids aged 6-10. And to make our content more accessible, we will build an app to replace our web-based platform.
Our big goal
Our mission is to have an impact on parents’ lives. We want to empower them to live with greater joy, serenity and a bit of sass. Our vision is to become the leading digital parenting companion. The millennial generation is rapidly moving into the parenting role, and they’re used to finding digital solutions to their problems. Think of meditation: Ten years ago, when you wanted to learn how to meditate, you visited a guru. Today, you open Headspace, Calm, Balloon or any of the other apps out there. Today, parents can buy a book, take a (long) video course or spend time searching for a coach. Tomorrow, they will just open FamilyPunk.
My tip for other founders
Think very carefully about working on your business versus in your business. Planning the strategy, setting goals, building the best business you can versus getting tasks done. In the beginning, you will be in charge of the latter too, but prepare yourself to delegate tasks to freelancers, interns, working students or your first employee. Figure out where your maximum impact zone is and try to spend more time there than on everyday chores.
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